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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/g7d0-4095


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Transnational Placemaking: Refugee and Migrant Experiences of Home and Away





This roundtable considers refugees’, migrants’, and displaced persons’ interaction with, perception of, and creation of “home” and “place” by addressing the ways that transnational relationships and processes can affect migrant and refugee identities and perceptions of home (Glick Schillar et al 1992). We consider the following questions: How do displaced persons and migrants create a sense of place, or engage in placemaking, in their current location? How do processes of emplacement affect relationships and experiences? How do they remain connected to, practically and affectively, their place of origin? How does immobility impact relationships to where they are “stuck,” to home, and to future places they imagine inhabiting? We will hold a discussion on the concept of “transnational locale” (Mountz and Wright 1996), the idea that spaces and times that are considered separate by possibly vast expanses of territory (the home, the hosting land, places transited through) are brought together into one conceptualization of place. The idea of an incorporated transnational locale has implications for relationships, politics, economics, and other spheres, and thus when applied lends insight to many aspects of displaced persons’ and migrants’ lives. The transnational locale, or placemaking, with regards to various iterations of “home” is a key theme we will address in our discussion. We consider how displaced persons create “home” by drawing upon different places and experiences during their mobility and periods of immobility, with each participant drawing upon their own research experiences. Deported, formerly incarcerated individuals in Mexico create dwellings and relationships based upon their carceral experiences. Refugee students from Iraq studying at a high school in Tennessee create an identity that incorporates both places, even as American educational institutions try to differentiate the two. Likewise, Chinese American college students in the US struggle to create a sense of self that incorporates both China and the United States, even as some aspects of their identity are imposed from outside. Syrian refugees who spent part of their “fragmented journeys” (Collyer 2010) in Greece but settled in other parts of Europe choose to become tourists in Greece due to their affective ties to that place and people there. The material belongings transported by refugees in Izmir and Lesvos tell a story of their past ties and longings and future hopes. And, Syrian refugees in Kurdistan assert ownership over a camp built by the UN. All participants interrogate transnational placemaking by migrants and refugees, and the ways that “home” is constructed from afar as a place one comes from and a place that one settles in, even for a short time. Collyer, Michael. 2010. “Stranded Migrants and the Fragments Journey.” Journal of Refugee Studies 23(3): 273-293. Mountz, Allison and Richard Wright. 1996. “Daily Life in the Transnational Migrant Community of San Augustin, Oaxaca and Poughkeepsie, New York.” Diaspora 5(3): 403-428. Schiller Glick, Nina; Basch, Linda; and Nicole Blanc-Szanton. 1992. “Towards a Definition of Transnationalism” in Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration, Schiller Glick, Nina; Basch, Linda; and Nicole Blanc-Szanton, eds. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1-24.


Transcript English (automatic)

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